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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Space Dwarfs beyond the Galactic Fringes: Harlequin, Fenryll, and Heresy

In our next tour of Space Dwarf Universe, we will stop at the small worlds of Harlequin, Fenryll, and Heresy. In this review of the OTC Space Dwarf universe, our beardy warriors will appear in more or less chronological order. But there is only so much I know about these minis, and many of them have no dates on them.

Harlequin / Black Tree Designs
Some time in the early to mid 1990s, Harlequin Miniatures released 3 sets of 3 Space Dwarfs, distinguishable by variations in their armor design. After Harlequin went out of business, their Space Dwarfs were sold by Black Tree Designs. They seem to be out of production now, or no longer made by Black Tree at least. My minis were purchased from Black Tree, who did not take the Harlequin name off the slotta tabs but did blank out the copyright date. Using a keen eye and the right angle, the whisps of the date can still be discerned as either 1991 or 1994, probably 1994.

As can be seen in the picture, Harlequin designed these minis in the imperial army flak armor style. They pack a variety of weapons that look like chunky versions of Citadel Lasguns and Las Pistols. This set is distinguished by having a ribbed pattern to their armor, reminiscent of a baseball catcher's padding.

Here is the Catcher series from the back. These Space Dwarfs could be a nice Necromunda gang, from very deep in the underhive.

The next set of troopers have smooth armor and are less heavily armed.

Smoove Squad through the backdoor. One of these troopers looks like he is treasonously raising his arms to surrender. Khorne countenances no surrender! Report for Mandatory Liquidation Duty immediately.

The last round of Harlequin Space Dwarfs, with a rectangular turtleshell type pattern to their armor. The fellow with the two pistoles in the air is badass enough to dispel some of the shame by Mr Cheeseatingsurrendermonkey above. Despite the similarity of that name to a certain popular Simpsons phrase, it is just coincidence; Mr Cheeseatingsurrendermonkey is Sri Lankan.

I'm not sure if that dwarf in the middle is supposed to look like he dropped his beer down the mineshaft, or is just weirdly cast.

Team Turtle's other side. Raphael is off for some pizza.

So why did the Harlequin Space Dwarfs escape the Cone of Ceasing and Desisting Spell cast by the High Wizards of the Citadel, which smote the Enigma Space Dwarfs? Despite their superior armor? Upon occult consultation with my Palantir of Intellectual Property Lore* a three fold path is dimly discerned.

By 1994, Games Workshop had undergone a period of expansion beyond the UK and into North America, Europe, and Oceania. They had also expanded their product lines with miniatures of a more uniform design than the days of Rogue Trader. These strengths would make them less threatened by a competitor than in earlier years. Enigma's location in Canada would have been a stronger threat to a company with a smaller range of products and distribution, possibly interrupting their ability to expand into North America.

Also by 1994, the Squats were more or less dead as a Warhammer 40K army, and the few minis designed for 40K 2nd Edition showed that Citadel's design team was moving away from the little guardsmen Squat variant in favor of the Hearth Guard style Squats.

Here is a scale comparison with our S3 Unit. It's blurry but I didn't feel like a reshoot, so just pretend it is a drawing of Xenos technology in action in a 40K Codex.
* Remember that the Palantiri reveal to the Seer many Things. Things as they Are, or Will Be, or Might Have Been. All opinions of the Palantir of Intellectual Property Lore are for entertainment purposes only, and those who are not entertained will be taken as fuel for the daemon-engines.

Fenryll Miniatures
In the late 1990s, maybe early 2000s, a company named Fenryll, located in France, started producing resin miniatures. The minis were mostly fantasy types, but they also produced a few sci-fi minis.

As the picture shows, Fenryll's earlier models had a tendency toward the cartoonish, and their minis still seem to vary wildly in style and skill depending on sculptor. These 3 are the SF10 Squad de Nains (Squad of Dwarfs). Center is a single piece with a giant gattling style gun, whose ugliness raises suspicions of some Ork in his ancestry. The Dwarf on the right is in two pieces, the body and the missile launcher. Lefty has a variety of weapons to be plugged into his hands.

Fenryll Dwarfs looking better from behind. Insert joke about your favorite university sorority here.

Despite the claim on the package that these are 25mm scale minis, Mr Halfork is honking huge compared to the S3. Overall, I would say that I am glad I got these for half price.

These are the SF27 Nains Zootroupers (Dwarf Beast-Troopers or something like that), 3 power armored fellows in uninspired poses. In the eyes of Khorne, those are some particularly puny buzzsaw hands the trooper on the left has. He looks a bit more like something from Paranoia than the Warhammer universe.

All look same. But now we know that those tubes are supposed to stick out of the heads of two of the troopers (the third is a cyber-whip for the right hand of the guy on the right). The tubes seem to be intended to dangle mysteriously, attached only to the aether.

At least these guys scale reasonably well with the rest of the 25/28mm world. These power armor troopers would be worth it to add some variety to the Citadel line if one were trying to make a "Counts-As-Space Marines" army of Space Dwarfs, instead of the "Counts-As-Imperial Guard" that is more commonly encountered. But first they must be interrogated as to their apparent lack of proper beards.

Last is the VPA06 Moto-Tank des Nains, technically from Fenryll's Post Apocalyptique series rather than the SF series. And quite the stylistic curiosity. Most noticeable, we have our gunner in the famous "Drive Me Closer I Want to Hit Them with My Sword!" pose, with a fitting IG command style hat as well. He is the gunner for a warbike similar to the Rogue Trader era Ork Wartraks, whose driver is some sort of escapee from Blood Bowl.

Here is the Moto-Tank in separate parts. The bike originally came as a main body with 2 side track pieces, with the gunner's stand and guns also originally separate. It also came with a resin base that is pretty obviously too small.

That's it for Fenryll. These minis are still in production, and there are painted examples on the Fenryll website. Also some more recent Chaos/Mutant Dwarfs that look rather intriguing.

Heresy Miniatures
Heresy Miniatures produces mostly fantasy miniatures, though they have been expanding a nice range of sci-fi skirmish game minis over the past few years. They have also been producing a really great line of Demons lately (http://www.heresyminiatures.com/demons_main.htm).

These Dwarfs are technically not Space Dwarfs. The two on the right and left are variants of Heresy's HH013 Dwarf Inventor/Miner. Both have the same body, with different arms and heads. They were interesting enough to buy, but I'm not sure what I'll ultimately use them for.

In the middle is the HV019 Dark Lord Dwarf Va'durr, another very nice mini. He would also fit well in a SM Squats army or as a commander in an IG army. He comes with a fantasy football hand that can replace the flaming sword, but who would want to do that? (http://www.heresyminiatures.com/hv019.htm)

Here are the Heresy Dwarfs from behind.

Both variants of the Dwarf Inventor/Miner. Claim-jumpers will be shot and fed to the vultures.

The Dark Lord with the S3. Durin...I am your father....

So buy some Heresy, great minis with nice optional parts at reasonable prices.

At this point, I would also like to thank the Frothers Unite! website for its Space Dwarf Showcase article, which introduced me to many of the minis in the Space Dwarfs beyond the Galactic Fringes series.

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